B’way to get new Italian eatery

By mid-March, Yalies will have a new dining option on Broadway: Bistro la Mensa, a restaurant specializing in pasta, panini, and other authentic Italian cuisine.

Bistro la Mensa will fill the currently vacant rear section of the Yale Bookstore, which is being prepared as a restaurant space. The new eatery will open onto the walkway next to Ezra Stiles College and will operate independently of the bookstore.

University Properties analyst Andrea Pizziconi ’01 said the bistro will probably seat 170 and maybe even more, with additional outdoor seating after possible renovations.

The restaurant will be owned and operated by Gideon Ghebreyesus and his brother Ficre, who have managed the popular Caffe Adulis on College Street for the past 10 years. Ficre, the executive chef at Adulis, will also be executive chef at Bistro La Mensa. Ficre recently received a degree from the School of Art and said he plans to use his artistic talents to create food that is both aesthetically pleasing and gustatorially satisfying.

Gideon said he is tremendously excited about the prospect of opening up another restaurant in New Haven.

“This is a win-win situation,” he said. “The restaurant will be geared towards students, with entree prices at $10 and below.”

In addition to Caffe Adulis, the brothers have managed several other restaurants in New Haven, including Scoozzi, Gentree’s, 368 Steakhouse, and Bruxelles. Gideon and Ficre are originally from Eritrea, a former Italian colony in North Africa, but have called New Haven home for 20 years.

Pizziconi said that University Properties has been looking for an on-campus Italian restaurant for a long time, and that Bistro la Mensa is a great solution because the restaurant will combine reasonably-priced food with exceptional service. The bistro will also enjoy an advantageous position in being surrounded by merchants and the York Square Cinemas, Pizziconi said.

She said working with the Ghebreyesus brothers has been wonderful.

“What’s neat about Gideon is that he is truly loved by Yalies and other residents of New Haven. He’s so comfortable with his customer base that he doesn’t mind not having street space,” she said. “He really represents town and gown. Ficre, too, is very excited. This restaurant is his labor of love.”

Pizziconi said the restaurant is a unique concept that the Ghebreyesus brothers can offer the burgeoning Broadway district. She said Barnes and Noble wanted a more efficient space, and the former Krauszer’s space was a little too small for a restaurant. The space in the bookstore, however, was just right.

Pizziconi stressed the affordability and quality of this dining possibility, and said that because the restaurant is scheduled to stay open from noon to 2 a.m. every day, it will be perfect for student groups and for friends and families to have dinner before shopping or seeing a movie.

Dow Tang ’05 was thrilled that Bistro la Mensa is opening.

“I’m excited about having a place that offers something besides pizza late at night,” he said. “Plus, I love Italian food.”

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